The Language of Dance® Approach grew out of Dr. Ann Hutchinson Guest’s work with children at the New York City 92nd Street Y.M.H.A. in the 1950’s and later with adults in London’s Teacher Training College of the Royal Academy of Dance in the 1970’s.
Guest, the primary developer of Rudolf Laban’s (1879-1958) system of Kinetography, which she coined “Labanotation”, began to use the notation symbols in a freer, more exploratory way while teaching children at the 92nd Street Y. She discovered that the physical coordination and focus required by structured notation limited the children’s freedom to move and be creative. This experience inspired her to research and identify the prime actions universal to all movement forms.
After consulting many lists and sources including the “Seven Movements in Dance” as taught in the Cecchetti Classical Ballet Method, Laban’s list of basic actions, and the writings of Margaret H’Doubler, she codified her definition of the ABC’s of movement, the Movement Alphabet ©1983.
In England, the need for a freer use of the Labanotation symbols arose when Valerie Preston taught Laban’s Educational Dance to physical education teachers, one of whom suggested the name, Motif Writing. This led to Preston’s development of the usage and to the subsequent publication in 1967 of her books on the subject entitled Readers in Kinetography Laban, Series B, Motif Writing for Dance.
While teaching a course at the Teacher Training College of the Royal Academy of Dance in 1971, Guest returned to her exploratory and creative use of the motif symbols. She recognized the need for complex movements to be deconstructed to their most basic elements with the ability to be built back up again. During this time, she codified the Language of Dance® work and produced the textbook entitled Your Move - A New Approach to the Study of Movement and Dance published in 1983. The second edition (2007), co-authored by Dr. Tina Curran, co-Founder of the Language of Dance Center (USA), is Your Move: The Language of Dance® Approach to the Study of Movement and Dance, available from Taylor & Francis.
The establishment of the Language of Dance Centre in London (1967) and the Language of Dance® Center (USA) in Connecticut (1997) with Dr. Tina Curran and Heidi Wiess enabled Guest and others to raise the profile of this innovative and pioneering approach to teaching dance.
In 2022, Dr. Ann Hutchinson Guest was appointed an Official Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of her services to dance.